Lack of transparency influences ski jumping competition

9 Feb 2022

Judges at sports competitions base their decisions less on performance when spectators are not there. This is the finding of a study by a research group led by business administration professor Christian Hofmann.

Ski jumping on Olympiaschanze Garmisch-Partenkirchen

© IMAGO ActionPictures

At ski jumping competitions, five judges award scores for objective criteria such as the distance jumped, but also for aspects such as style. Unlike in soccer, for example, the judges or referees at international competitions often come from the same country as the participating athletes. In the past, it has already been demonstrated that this leads to distortions in the scoring.

A new study now shows not only that the nationality of the judges has an influence, but also that this influence has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers working with Professor Christian Hofmann, President of the Institute for Accounting and Control at LMU’s Faculty of Business Administration, teamed up with Professor Jan Bouwens from the University of Amsterdam to analyze the data for 126 ski jumping competitions held over the past five years. The result? At venues where no spectators are present due to pandemic-related restrictions – spectators who could ensure a measure of transparency – judges tend to put athletes of other nationalities at a greater disadvantage.

Christopher Lechner, a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Accounting and Control, also took part in the study, which was published in the Working Papers series at the Collaborative Research Center/Transregio “Accounting for Transparency”.

More about this publication

Who will get Olympic gold? Why performance is not the only thing that counts in ski jumping! Findings of a current research project.

Bouwens, Jan, Hofmann, Christian, Lechner, Christopher: Transparency and biases in subjective performance evaluation. TRR 266 Working Papers Series Nr. 72, 2022

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